AMC released a great 4-minute sneak peek last week, with the cast and producers previewing the Episode 9/February 9 return of The Walking Dead Season 4. We spent so much time focusing on what they said — which was very important and telling — that we’ve had to go back several times to review what they showed. The new footage is equally important and telling, for what it shows and perhaps even more for what it doesn’t show. On that note, here are five points to ponder.
1. How Many Episodes Does This Cover?
It’s possible the video is only for the first few episodes of the second half — the Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) footage may be all from Episode 9 itself, and we’re expecting Episode 10 to cover four different groups. What if it’s Beth/Daryl, Tyreese and the kids, Maggie/Bob/Sasha and Glenn with the bus? It’s possible this footage doesn’t even go beyond Episode 11. That could be wrong, but this feels like a short-term preview.
2. Who Is Missing?
The people not shown are most intriguing to us. There’s no shot of Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride), which is not that surprising, since they seem to want to retain mystery around her big return. (A newer promo may show her hand on a gun…) But there are also no shots of Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) or Bob Stookey (Larry Gilliard Jr.), who should be with Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan). Maggie is shown in the promo, channeling her grief into anger, but we’ve only seen one brief glimpse of Bob and Sasha so far, in the first promo. Are they OK?
There are also no new scenes of Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) here — just Steven talking about him as we re-see him on the bus on Episode 8. Glenn has been featured in other promos, though, so he does get off the bus at some point, although he seems to be bloody and in bad shape. We don’t see anyone from The Governor’s old group, including Tara and Lilly; we’re expecting to at least see Tara pretty soon. We also don’t see baby Judith; someone has to have her (Tyreese?), but they’re not going to spare us the suspense this easily.
There’s also no hint to the new trio coming soon, perhaps as early as Episode 10: Sgt. Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz), Rosita Espinosa (Christian Serratos), and Dr. Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt). There’s no shot of this new guy Gareth (Andrew J. West), either, who is supposed to be an important character, and no suggestion that we’ll see Morgan Jones (Lennie James) again. It’s a very tight focus on just a few characters.
3. Will Some Groups Run Into Each Other or Just Miss Each Other?
We know Team Prison isn't going to reunite quickly, or maybe at all, but it looks like certain places will be revisited by multiple groups. Rick and Carl are probably the first to visit the place that looks like a BBQ shack restaurant/bar — with all the wood paneling — and we'll probably see that in Episode 9 itself. We may also see Michonne coming across the same place, shortly after them. Daryl is also seen in a building, but it doesn't look like the same restaurant.
However, Daryl is shown standing on train tracks, and the sneak peek also shows Rick and Carl crossing train tracks. Another promo suggests Beth is also with Daryl when he’s at the tracks (when she breaks down to cry). At another point, we also see Tyreese (Chad Coleman), Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) and Mika Samuels (Kyla Kenedy) walking the same tracks. We’re expecting Tyreese and the kids to eventually run into Carol, maybe in the woods or on the same train tracks. The official poster for the second half shows Rick and Carl on train tracks with the "Don't Look Back" theme. We'll have to see if those tracks lead any of the group to find each other.
4. What's With the "Rich Bitch"?
Daryl has a couple of interesting scenes in the sneak peek, including holding a snake, sitting in the dark, and wandering through a building/home with a dead lady hanging on the wall. She has the label "rich bitch" around her neck, which feels reminiscent of those people who were labeled "liar" and "murderer" in the earlier Governor episodes. Coincidence?
This may tell us something: After Episode 8, The Hollywood Reporter asked showrunner Scott Gimple, "We saw a mysterious cabin and dead military members described as rapists and murderers. That's a big piece to Abraham's story. Will that come back into play?" Scott answered, "That cabin in and of itself will not be seen again. That's part of the Governor's story, and that story is over." So the cabin is gone, but not necessarily the end of the story of the signs.
5. Are the Inexperienced Fighters Going to Make It?
Daryl and Michonne are always going to kick butt, that’s understood. But the sneak peek hints to major action from some unexpected players. For instance, we see wide-eyed young Mika fire a gun, Beth get in some walker kills, Carl take charge over his injured dad, and pissed-off Maggie fight zombies. Are they all up to the challenge? Will some of them prove to be better at this than expected? We’re not used to seeing any of them take charge for long, without backup. They are now out in the wide world, filled with walkers and scary humans. Who isn’t going to make it?
Watch the sneak peek below. What stands out to you?
The Walking Dead Season 4 returns with Episode 9 on Sunday, February 9 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.